Garcia does the USF2000 double in St. Petersburg

A sweep of The Andersen Companies Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has catapulted 14-year-old Max Garcia, from Coconut Grove, Fla., into an early lead in the quest for this year’s USF2000 Presented by Continental Tire title chase and a scholarship valued at $458,400 to progress onto the next level of the USF Pro Championships ladder in 2025. Pabst Racing’s Garcia executed a bold pass for the lead just before the midway point in this afternoon’s second race of the weekend and maintained his advantage to the finish.

Pabst Racing teammate Sam Corry, from Cornelius, N.C., also slipped past early leader Evagoras Papasavvas (Jay Howard Driver Development), from Loveland, Ohio, for second place to ensure a reversal of their finishing positions from yesterday’s opening race of the season.

Garcia once again started at the front of the pack after claiming his second Continental Tire Pole Award, but for the second successive day found himself behind after the first corner as Papasavvas, a second-place finisher also in 2023, used his prior experience to fine effect by slipping into the lead.


Canadian Nico Christodoulou also made a fast getaway for VRD Racing, jumping from sixth to third at the start, although he was unable to hold that position for long as Corry, who had started second, made his way back into third on lap three.

Garcia heaped the pressure on Papasavvas in the early laps, prior to a full-course caution due to an incident farther back in the field, although as the leaders began their ninth lap, Garcia made a fully committed lunge under braking for Turn 1 and was able to wrest away the advantage.

The resulting loss of momentum also allowed Corry to clip through into second, which is where he remained.

The race ultimately finished behind the safety car following an incident in Turn 4 with just a couple of laps remaining after Ayrton Houk, from McCordsville, Ind., was forced to abruptly slow when the fire extinguisher in his DC Autosport Tatuus unexpectedly discharged. Even more unfortunately, Brazilian Lucas Fecury was caught unawares in his DEForce entry and also forced out of the race.

Up front, the two Pabst cars completed another excellent weekend for the Oconomowoc, Wis.-based squad by claiming a one-two finish. Papasavvas remained in third, while Elliot Cox, from Indianapolis, Ind., completed a strong weekend by taking fourth once more for the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Development team.

“I was jumped at the start but got by him full-send on a restart,” Garcia said. “We got into the lead and never really looked back after that. The red flag was a bit stressful, just waiting there, but once we got back to racing, the car was fast. Big thanks again to Pabst Racing.”

Christodoulou ended the day in fifth, just ahead of Exclusive Autosport’s Thomas Schrage, from Bethel, Ohio, who overcame some difficulties in yesterday’s race to charge impressively from 17th on the grid to sixth.

Australian Quinn Armstrong (DEForce Racing) finished seventh again as Joey Brienza (Exclusive Autosport), from Golden, Colo., Hudson Schwartz (Pabst Racing) from Arlington, Va., and a second Australian, Xavier Kokai (VRD Racing), rounded out the top 10.

Schwartz pocketed the Tilton Hard Charger Award after moving up from 22nd on the grid following an accident yesterday, as team owner Augie Pabst claimed yet another PFC Award.

The series next will return to NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, La., the scene of last week’s Spring Training preseason test, for a tripleheader race weekend on April 5-7.


Story originally appeared on Racer